Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Hugh Morton: Mr. Tenacity

Posted June 4, 2006

North Carolina has lost one of its finest sons in Hugh Morton. I grieve with his family. He was one of those bigger than life figures and his passing continues to mark the end of an era. Hugh was Mr. Tenacity. He seized upon an issue with laser beam focus, studied it thoroughly, carved out a position, stuck to it and rallied the troops to bring about corrective change. He wasn’t always successful but you couldn’t help but admire his passion and conviction. Hugh Morton wasn’t a slap-your-back, joke it up charmer. His speech was almost quiet at times. He was even keeled and always the gentleman. More than anything else he was thoughtful, sincere and genuine and I think that’s what really won me over. I first met him as a child with my family but really got to know him as the environmental reporter for WRAL. Hugh Morton didn’t look upon himself as the owner of Grandfather Mountain but rather the guardian. One of his biggest thorns was the gaudy condo project perched up on Sugar Mountain nearby. You don’t have to worry about anything like that happening to the Grandfather Mountain property. Hugh Morton took a bold stand and granted conservation easements to thousands of his acres of prime mountain real estate. His action means the land will always stay in its natural state. He could have developed the land and made incredible amounts of money. But Hugh Morton did the right thing. I will miss him greatly and every time I hike the beautiful trails around Grandfather Mountain I will think of him with great admiration.

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Bill Leslie